After starting off conference play 1-1, the Wildcats are unbeaten at home this weekend. The Wildcats will play the University of New Orleans Thursday and Southeastern Louisiana University on Saturday.
“I think our first two matches in conference have given us a lot of momentum. We had a great week of practice and looking forward to our two home matches this week,” said head coach Jason Bibler.
ACU will take on the Privateers from New Orleans in its third conference game of the season. The Wildcats have had great success against UNO since joining the Southland Conference, going 3-0 in their meetings. The Privateers will be bringing a 3-12 overall record and a 0-2 conference record with them.
Their three wins come against Louisiana Tech, Mississippi Valley State, and Jackson State. In conference, UNO has lost to Houston Baptist and Lamar, managing to only win one set against Lamar during these games. Cara Sanders is the Privateers top threat from the service line and also good enough for third best in the Southland with an average of 0.33 aces per set.
Saturday, the Wildcats hosts SELU in an early day game. The Wildcats have gone 2-1 against SELU since joining the SLC. The Lions are 2-12 on the season and have split the two conference games they have played to give them a 1-1 conference record. Their two wins have come against Southern University and Lamar. SELU has faced some good teams this year, but have not fared well against any of them as they have been swept by Kansas and Purdue and lost against Houston Baptist for their lone conference loss.
Elyssa Purcell has been big for the Lions as she has four triple-doubles, which puts her among the national leaders. Rachael Bunn has also a big player on the team after adding five blocks in her last game to her total, she now is number five on the all-time blocks list in SLU school history.
“I think as a team we are really focused on what we are doing as a unit. We need our passing to be good, in order for our hitting to be good.” Bibler said. “Volleyball is a team sport and so the fact that we have some individuals that are stepping up, just means that our team is playing really well together as a whole.”
Jacey Smith has been big for the team this season, as her 2.76 kills per set have her ranked 10th in the Southland Conference. Lexi Mercier and Lauren Walker have been a force to be reckoned with as they are ranked fifth and sixth respectively with blocks per set averages of 1.08 and 1.00. In Southland Conference play, Abilene Christian leads the SLC with 1.88 service aces and 2.88 blocks per set.
“We’ve been trying to serve more aggressive, and if you serve more aggressive that helps out your block,” Bibler said. “If we just continue to work on our blocking it makes us a better defensive team, and if we continue to work on our serving it makes a better blocking team. So we’re definitely emphasizing blocking in practice and things like that.”
Last season ACU defeated UNO in straight sets and overcame SELU in just four sets as part of a fourth place finish in the conference.